‘Dr’ Stephen Ferguson’s recordbreaking ASA adjudication

The Advertising Standards Authority have upheld my complaint against Dr Stephen Ferguson’s Natural Health Clinic website. He was found to be in breach of eight of the CAP Code rules – more than any other live blood analyst on my list.

Yet surprisingly, the ASA have not asked him to stop calling himself ‘Dr’. As Ferguson explains here, (at the bottom, just after the incredible CV):

The use of Dr before Dr Stephen Ferguson’s name is for PhD, the highest level of learning, not because he is a chemical drug doctor (GP). He is a naturopathic doctor the number 1 in the world, curing disease using only natural techniques and substances. NO CHEMICAL DRUGS (which are needed at times, but always damage the body and create other diseases, and in most case just mask the ones you already have pushing them deeper into your system, so you stay a legal drug addict for life in most chronic cases).

And that more or less sums up the problems with the Natural Health Clinic site.

Ferguson seems to be saying that whatever your health complaint (whether it be asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, or even cancer), you would be better off taking advice from him than from a suitably qualified health professional.

Whereas doctors prescribe those nasty chemical drugs, Ferguson sells his own “Dr Ferguson” range of foods and supplements, alongside some rather audacious health claims.

Apparently, the Multivitamin PH Balancer, Blood Cleanser & Energy Booster builds the immune system up stronger than anything else on the market and the Tropical Fruit Whey Protein Powder may help protect the body from “diabetes; multiple sclerosis; motor neuron disease; obesity and alzheimer’s [sic] disease.”

I challenged whether;

  1. the website was misleading as it implied the listed illnesses could be treated or cured by the advertiser;
  2. the claims relating to “allopathic medicine” were harmful and could discourage essential treatment for which medical supervision should be sought
  3. Dr Ferguson was suitably qualified to offer advice, diagnosis and treatment for the conditions featured;
  4. the claims relating to Live Blood Analysis could be substantiated;
  5. the website implied the food products for sale could prevent, treat or cure human disease.

Dr Ferguson’s response was to point out that on the homepage of the Natural Health Clinic site, it clearly states “Disclaimer… Nothing on this website constitutes any form of medical advice what so ever. If you have a medical problem concerning your health you are strongly urged to go to your GP.”

(He doesn’t suggest what you should do if you have a medical problem that doesn’t concern your health.)

The ASA ruled that the ad breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health related products and beauty products), 15.6 and 15.6.2 (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims). It must not appear again in its current form.

Whether Ferguson will respond appropriately remains to be seen. At the time of writing, the claims for the pH balancer seem to have been edited slightly and the claims for the whey powder have gone. This is not good enough.

I also note that Ferguson sells apricot seeds, recommending three per day and stating:

Has been said by many users that it strengthen their immune system and helped with their cancer.

This is potentially dangerous and almost certainly illegal under the Cancer Act (1939). Ferguson should be reported to Trading Standards.

I will be keeping a close eye on the Natural Health Clinic website over the coming months.

Related articles

I wish I could be like Dr Steve Josephine Jones, 19/05/11

Radio 4 You & Yours investigate unregulated ‘live’ blood tests Josephine Jones, 17/03/12

Daily Quack: Stephen Ferguson DQ Staff Reporter, 31/12/12

Live Blood Analysis and the ASA: a catalogue of complaints Josephine Jones, 14/01/13

14 responses to “‘Dr’ Stephen Ferguson’s recordbreaking ASA adjudication

  1. Pingback: Live Blood Analysis and the ASA: a catalogue of complaints | Josephine Jones

  2. I’m sure another advertiser had to remove “Dr”, or at least make it clear she was a PhD rather than medically qualified. Is there some inconsistency in the ASA?

  3. Indeed – I think Gillian McKeith is probably the most famous example but that didn’t get as far as a full adjudication: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542500/Forget-the-doctor-says-TV-Gillian-McKeith.html

    The CAP guidelines are here, including examples of relevant adjudications: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Training-on-the-rules/Advice-Online-Database/Use-of-the-term-Dr.aspx

    It’s not straightforward but I’m pretty sure Ferguson shouldn’t be calling himself ‘Dr’. I think the ASA can be inconsistent sometimes. I imagine it depends on how the complaint is worded. Mine was quite a long complaint, making quite a few points and although I did mention Ferguson’s use of the term ‘Dr’ I don’t think I unambiguously objected to it. Rather, I just questioned whether he was suitably qualified to give out medical advice.

    The ASA generally allow a period of grace after an adjudication in order to allow advertisers to bring things into line. I’ll see how his site looks in a few months and then decide how best to proceed.

  4. For those who don’t know the story, here’s an interesting background to ‘live blood analysis’: http://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_pseudoscience_of_live_blood_cell_analysis

  5. … Sorry, I meant I’ll add the link to my last post:

    https://josephinejones.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/live-blood-analysis-and-the-asa-a-catalogue-of-complaints/

    … which was more generally about live blood analysis rather than about a particular practitioner.

    These other articles are also worth a read, also linked there:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/jul/12/health.science

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/live-blood-analysis-the-modern-auguries/

    And for anyone who has the time and inclination, there are plenty more posts like this one on the “live blood analysis” tag to the right of this page.

  6. Victor Daniels

    He had over 300 happy customers who have done video testimonies to back up his claims, so he must be doing something right!

    In a free democracy are we saying that if you did find a cure for Cancer which genuinely worked, are you simply not allowed to say so?

  7. George mcWhirter

    Ummm he has a book which he says is the ‘fastest selling book on the planet’ and it is a ‘best seller’ – look at the hundreds of reviews…not…

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Master-Your-Health-Happiness/dp/095627000X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399512715&sr=8-1&keywords=How+to+Master+your+Health+and+Happiness

    • Victor Daniels

      You seem more concerned about words on paper. Have you actually investigated whether or not his claims actually work? Surely this is the important question

  8. “Fasting Selling Book on the Planet?” does that mean you can buy it faster than other books? Does it buy itself? It is closer to the register than other books?

  9. I went to see Dr Ferguson three years ago after seeing my GP for two month on a weekly basis, where they diagnosed me with various illnesses and prescriptions of which none worked over that period of time.It went so far that they were telling me it was all to do with the menopause I was going through, even though I did not even have the usual symptoms of hot flushes. I also had a couple of blood tests done by my GP which only noted that my sugar levels were abnormally high.
    I am usually a very fit and healthy person, only ever going to see my GP in a case of having a sprained ankle so I was quiet shocked that nobody (I saw different GP’s at the practice) could find what was wrong with me.
    My symptoms were very varied, the worst being unusually tired and unable to stay awake after 7pm in the evening and my skin coming off in layers on my face and hands.
    I did the live blood test at Dr Ferguson’s and it transpired that I had a virus which was attacking my red blood cells, or better the white ring around the blood cells which is the oxygen carried by the cells. It was clear to see on the screen that the rings were partly destroyed, hence my blood cells did not carry the usual amount of oxygen through my system and hardly moved. The result was my abnormal tiredness and the peeling of my skin. He also detected that I had a gluten infection/allergy (which my GP mistook for a thrush infection) and was quite concerned about my high sugar which my GP said would regulate itself.
    I followed the diet and detox he prescribed to the letter, took the blood cleanser and did the exercises over the next two month, even though within a week all my symptoms disappeared. I took the second live blood test at the end of the two month and my blood cells were completely restored and were moving around freely which they had not done before.
    All I can say is that maybe you should have tried the diet he prescribed and take the blood cleanser to see if it worked instead of dismissing it. But I guess trying things out halfheartedly will never give us the results we expect.

    • Sounds like jealousy from some of these so called ‘professionals’ to me. You know anytime someone comes up with natural products that actually work, the chemical pushers come out of their holes and try to shut them down. They have not tested the products to see if it holds up to the claims, but will be hastily dismissive of it. At the end of the day, the fear is.. Dr Ferguson is taking away money and clients from them. It’s not that they give a damn about people’s health.. Just worried about their pockets. Healthy eating, natural products as well as exercising will definitely keep the chemical Johnnies away. I am in no way shape or form affiliated with Dr Ferguson. I just see through people’s bs.

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